Bella started out as a short form of Isabella, or other names ending in -bella (Annabella, Arabella etc.), though now it is used on its own. The word "bella" means "beautiful" in Italian, which may have contributed to its popularity. In 2012, it was the 86th most popular name in the USA, its popularity influenced by the #1 name Isabella, and probably also because Bella Swan is the name of the protagonist in Stephanie Meyers' popular Twilight series (though her full name is Isabella).
See Also: Isabella, Arabella
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